RTDNA celebrates 70 years of service

October 24, 2016 01:30

It was 70 years ago today, October 24, 1946, that RTDNA (then called the National Association of Radio News Editors) officially began, at its first national convention in Cleveland.

F.O. Carver, President of the Carolinas Radio News Directors Association and an RTDNA board member, recounted those early days, now preserved in the Association's archives:
In the summer of 1946, John Hogan (WCSH, Portland, Maine) began sending letters to radio newsmen across the country. He said that newsmen had proposed a national association of radio newsmen and that a meeting for the organization's formation was suggested for the autumn of 1946.

In late October, 65 newsmen from many parts of the country met at the Allerton Hotel in Cleveland. In just three days, the Constitution Committee, chairmanned by John Murphy (WCKY, Cincinnati) wrote a constitution. And the newsmen present gave the organization its first name and elected the first officers. These 65 men were charter members of the National Association of Radio News Editors. The first president was John Hogan, who set as the general aim of NARNE, the improvement of radio news presentation.

Decisions facing the 1946 convention involved eligibility for membership, methods of electing officers, and objectives of the organization. The Association got its first name change at this convention; because most heads of radio news departments were called "directors" or "managers", the name was changed to the National Association of Radio News Directors. At the convention, NARND went on record as believing "that locally originated news should be gathered, written, and presented by station personnel trained in news writing and evaluation; that this news should be written and presented accurately and without bias, to inform as many as possible, and should remain within the bounds of good taste; that the autonomy of the news director and his news department in the radio station should be recognized; that the news director should be directly responsible only to his journalistic principles and ideals, and to the general manager of the station."

Committees were set up for Awards and Education. A Membership Committee was established to decide "how to handle candidates for membership," and a Board of Directors was appointed. The first Directors were John Hogan, John Murphy, Jack Shelley (WHO, Des Moines), Jack Krueger (WTMJ, Milwaukee), Tom Eaton (WTIC, Hartford), Bob Mahoney (KWKH, Shreveport), Les Ford (WGR, Buffalo), Soren Munkhof (WOW, Omaha), Ben Chatfield (WMAZ, Macon), Sig Mickelson (WCCO, Minneapolis), Milo Knutson (KFBI, Wichita), and Dave Kessler (WHAM, Rochester). Officers were John Hogan, President, Sig Mickelson, First Vice-President, Jack Shelley, Second Vice-President, John Murphy, Treasurer, and Edward Wallace (WTAM, Cleveland) Executive Secretary.

At this first convention, members heard panels on "Writing and Building News Broadcasts," "Personnel Problems, Newsroom Management, and Organization," "Special Events Techniques Employed in News Broadcasts," "Shall We Editorialize on the Air?, "News Gathering and Coverage," and "Contributions of Press Associations to Radio News Broadcasts."

An early association newsletter planned a membership drive and offered these reasons for news leaders to join:
  1. Some organization is needed to help radio consolidate the position it won through its fine reporting of the Second World War, by becoming what might be described as a "steering committee" for radio news broadcasting.
  2. It offers radio news men membership in a professional society, thus establishing their position as a special and responsible segment of the industry.
  3. An association offers a clearing house for information.
  4. It should help news departments win greater recognition as an important and responsible phase of a station's operation, a phase requiring competent personnel.
  5. An organization will help radio in its battle for equal access to news sources.

Today, with more than 1200 members in radio, television and digital newsrooms across the country, RTDNA is still building its mission to serve electronic journalists. The reasons for becoming a member continue to grow, and that original list a good starting point.

RTDNA honors fine reporting with the Edward R. Murrow Awards, offers electronic journalists a place to be part of a professional group, provides daily news and information, promotes training to build skills at every level of our profession, and fights for the rights of journalists in city halls, legislatures and courtrooms every day.

If you are a journalist, we urge you to become a member of the Association today. Be a part of our next 70 years of service!